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Sunday, 26 June 2011





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Channel 4 drama:

Maj Gen Shavendra Silva sifts fact from fiction

 Major General Shavendra Silva

Dr. Palitha Kohona

Armed with ‘evidence’ and videos many gathered at the UN Church Centre right across the United Nations Headquarters in New York to tarnish the image of Sri Lanka; sponsored by Amnesty International (AI), Human Rights Watch and the International Crisis Group to screen the documentary ‘Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields’ by film producer Cullum McRae which was telecast over the UK-based TV station Channel 4. The team claimed that the documentary confirms the findings of the Darusman Report.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch were not happy as the international community had not conducted an independent investigation on Sri Lanka.

For AI this footage was strong evidence of war crimes and for them there was a consistent pattern of Human Rights violation by the Sri Lankan Forces.

Fortunately, two strong pillars of our diplomatic mission representing the UN, kept a watchful eye over all that happened.

The screening was attended by about 40 people mainly from NGOs. The Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN, Dr. Palitha Kohona and the Deputy Permanent Representative, Ambassador Major General Shavendra Silva watched the movie.

Ambassador Kohona and Major General Silva challenged the assertions and suggestions in the documentary.

Maj. Gen. Silva told the panel that he knew well what exactly had taken place at the battlefront.

The documentary did not contain much video footage which could have been used as evidence to support the Major General’s explanation. Unfortunately, they were not permitted by Amnesty International, according to the news reports from New York.

Statements which were blatant lies as well as the true identities of the individuals of the ‘movie’ were pointed out by the Ambassador. The inconsistencies and false stories of the documentary were highlighted by him.

The film maker seemed devastated when Ambassador Silva pointed out the wrong translation in the scene of civilians inside a trench. The civilians in the trench were shown shouting at the cameraman in protest at being recorded. The wrong translation provided for the Tamil being spoken is clear evidence that this was, in fact, staged.

Maj. Gen. Silva informed the audience that one visual, which showed an aerial bombing on a specific target in the jungle area, used other footage of fighter jets to show those particular fighter jets purposely bombing civilian gatherings.

They were two separate locations, but the narrator tried to portray it as it the casualties had occurred owing to the bombing in a manner which could convince the audience.

Eye witnesses

Major General Silva explained that during this clip, the film-maker uses two eye witnesses, namely Vany Kumar and Dr. Shamugaraj. Vany Kumar had three different names in different locations; Damilvany Kumar, Vany Kumar, Damilvany Gnanakumar.

The Channel 4 program says she had been in Sri Lanka only for six months, but Ambassador Silva highlighted her stay in Sri Lanka; what her family in the UK has said through the in an interview and proved to the audience that she was in fact an LTTE activist and questioning her credibility in the documentary. Ambassador Silva also shed light on several statements made by Dr. Shanmugaraja who admits to giving false information to the international media due to LTTE pressure.

Channel 4 wanted to create a major controversy about Sri Lanka since the channel knew that the resultant controversy will be fuelled by international media institutions while earning the channel millions of black pounds to overcome their bankruptcy.

It is easy for a media organisation to use sex, violence, crime or gossip to fill the profit gaps that crop up from time to time. This is known as ‘yellow journalism’ and is not used for the betterment of the communities.

Finally , the film-maker, in a desperate attempt to save his image in front of the audience, informs the viewers that Ambassador Silva should have appeared in from of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), claiming that he had not. At this moment Ambassador Silva informed the audience again that the film-maker, doesn’t have the correct information and that he has, in fact, appeared twice in front of the LLRC to present testimonies.

The film-maker and the NGOs were rendered speechless with the facts being thrown at them. Members of the audience have said that it was a failure on the part of the NGOs to try to present false information.

Dr. Kohona concluded by saying that it is one thing to present facts to be judged by viewers, but it was something else for the malicious misrepresentation of facts to create an unreal and exaggerated picture with an ulterior motive.

The audience virtually had no questions during the discussion period following the outstanding counter presentations by Ambassador Dr. Kohona and Ambassador Major General Silva who separated the fact from the fiction in this “mocumentary”.

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